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Saturday, November 26, 2011

A taste of Fast Lane

Hey, ManWARriors. Welcome to the official preview of Fast Lane, which is now available as an ebook. We start, appropriately enough, at page 1:

The limo jerked hard to the right, sending Lara Dixon sliding across the slick leather seat.

That can’t be good.

The man seated across from her—the man Gina had found to introduce her to Clay Creighton—scrambled upright and banged on the plexiglas partition separating them from the driver, a uniformed woman who had quarter-inch silver hair peeking from beneath a livery cap.

“What the hell?” he demanded as the partition slid open. “Did you hit something?

The driver met Lara’s questioning gaze in the rearview mirror. “Oops.” The partition slid shut.

That really can’t be good.

Lara flipped down a mirror to fix her hair. Her natural color shimmered through the semisweet chocolate veneer. Hard to get used to after thirty-two years as a blonde.

“Just a bump in the road.” Anton Roche worked his neck like a preening turkey and settled back in as the limo raced past Paradise Cove on the road to Malibu.

“As I was saying, the girl thought she was the aurora borealis, Liberty’s torch and the leprechaun’s pot o’ gold rolled into one. But she knew she looked even hotter in my bustier.”

Lara suppressed a sigh. How does Gina put up with this guy? The lingerie designer had prattled about his life with the glitterati from the minute he’d picked her up at her humble Santa Monica apartment. She wished he’d let her concentrate on this new experience of riding in luxury. After tonight, she might never step into a limo again. Then again, Roche had put his turkey neck on the line to talk up Lara to Clay Creighton.

He has his own axe to grind, but I should at least pretend to be interested.

“Why is it the ‘STP’ bustier?” Lara asked, though after weeks of researching Creighton’s Fast Lane empire, she knew the answer. Never hurts to practice. You’ll be lying all the time if everything goes right tonight.

Roche straightened with pride. “‘Seconds to Paradise.’ It’s goddamn brilliant. Builds up the bust—and a man can unhook it one-handed like that.” He snapped his fingers. “You know how much money Creighton’s made from that thing? It’s the biggest seller in the Toy Store. But do I get the credit?” He looked more closely at Lara. “It wouldn’t have been a bad idea for you to wear one tonight.”

Lara had considered buying one from Fast Lane’s notorious online gift shop back when she was married. “I thought STP had something to do with gasoline.”

“Yeah, well…Fast Lane: Racy cars, the high life…and all that.”

Fast women, fast cars, fast living. I know all about Fast Lane and Clay Creighton.

Lara looked out the window as Roche chattered on. The sun drifting down through the maritime haze toward Point Dume reflected in her diamond-blue eyes. The conflagration of red, orange and purple looked no different from here than it did from the bluffs on the other side of Santa Monica Bay.

The limo jerked again as they turned up a gravel road. Lara’s heart quickened. We must be close.

“We’re here!” Roche announced as the car turned into a driveway that twisted skyward through desert terrain. “Are you ready?”

Lara thought about the weeks she’d spent in the gym. The coaching sessions on how to lie with a mysterious woman whose name and accent changed daily. The hours poring through the enormously popular Fast Lane website, reading Creighton’s daily encyclicals on materialism and carnality until she could easily extemporize on the advantages of gadgets she’d never use and the attributes of running backs she’d never cheer for.

But everything she learned did nothing to change her opinion: Fast Lane was nothing but a place where men like her asshole ex, Kyle, could leer at naked women and find validation for believing they deserved their own harems.
An instructional guide on how to fuck over your wife.

She closed her eyes and her mind to escape Roche’s jabber. When she had approached Gina Wray, creator of the pro-woman website, with the idea of infiltrating Fast Lane to reveal its sordid secrets, Lara had never expected to be the one doing the infiltrating.

“I know plenty of people who’d like to bring Clay Creighton down—people who’d pay big bucks for an exposé,” Gina had told Lara. “Putting an end to The Rotation wouldn’t be so bad, either.”

The Rotation consisted of three women who were at Creighton’s beck and call 24/7. Every six months, he dumped the most senior member and introduced a new plaything. Relationships arced, he said, starting out passionate and ending up routine, so a man had to bring in “new talent” to keep things exciting. Gina’s plan was for Lara to become the first woman in The Rotation’s disgraceful sixteen-year history to dump him instead.

“I don’t know,” Lara had protested. “I’m not exactly Fast Lane material.”
“The material is there,” Gina had assured her. “You just have to move it around a little.”

Nothing’s simple. The world is warm and cool and open and mysterious and bright and muddled—all at the same time. How do you live with that?

Lara opened her eyes to see Roche staring at her chest. He frowned. “Can’t you show a little more cleavage?”

Lara reflexively looked down the ruffled collar of her dress—a sleeveless midnight blue Roland Mouret crepe Gina had purchased for this night. Lara marveled at how easily the twenty-five-hundred-dollar price tag convinced her the dress fit and felt better than anything she’d ever worn.

But does it look good enough?

Even with her new body and hair, even with every follicle below her forehead sugar-waxed and ripped clean, her nails filed, polished and buffed to a mother-of-pearl sheen, her feet soaked in lavender-scented Dead Sea salt water and tucked neatly into a pair of Guillaume Hinfray platform slingbacks, even after two months of Gina’s pep talks, she had to ask this clown, “Do you believe I can even get into The Rotation?”

Roche leaned back against the velvety leather, his beady black eyes taking in Lara’s slender five-foot-eight-inch frame, long legs, toned and spray-tanned arms. She held steady under his gaze. He reached up and pushed a lock of hair off her forehead. She knocked his hand away and moved the hair back.

“Eh,” Roche said. “Stranger things have happened.”

Just what I needed: a big boost of confidence.

The limo crested a hillock and slowed to a stop. A busty young woman wearing the lowest-cut Lakers jersey Lara had ever seen opened the door. “Welcome to the ICE House!”

Fast Lane is available as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords for $2.99. A print version should be available within a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fast Lane’s for sale!

The romance novel that launched Man Writing a Romance is now available as an ebook. Find it for $2.99 at Amazon and Smashwords.

A funny thing happened on the way to getting Fast Lane up and running. I had a knee replaced.

This wasn’t a surprise. I’d known for more than five years it would have to be done. I knew the exact date for more than a month. And that date became my deadline for incorporating all the comments from my writing group critiquers, beta readers, editor and proofreader.

But, man, those readers kept finding ways for me to make the story, the characters-- the whole book--better.

I prepped Fast Lane for publishing the weekend before Knee Day. Two days before, I thought I was set. One day before, Kindle Direct Publishing alerted me to a submission error. So, one night before, I tried again. And screwed up again.

Oh, well.

Today, Fast Lane is on the electronic bookshelf. My knee is on the biological mend. And with the holidays nigh upon us, I’m grateful to everyone who helped me write Fast Lane and get the word out--and to anyone who downloads a copy and gives it a read.

If you do the latter, please let me know what you think. And if you like it--really, really like it--please don’t hesitate to let someone else know what you think.

Because it’s pure joy to be up and running. Crutches or not.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Approaching the finish line

It comes to this. Fast Lane is written, rewritten, rewritten, rewritten, rewritten again, and proofread. Only the hard part is left.


Actually, I didn't find formatting anywhere near as difficult as I was told it would be when I put Man Writing a Romance, the Ebook, up for sale last month. If you want to self-publish something, I heartily recommend Mark Coker's Smashwords Style Guide--How to Format Your Ebook.

I'd like to be able to tell you Fast Lane is available right now, but life intervenes for a few days in the form of house guests. Since the Packers don't play until Monday night, I do have all of Sunday and Monday to get the book in shape.

In the meantime, please tell everyone to come here and admire this wonderful cover designed by Connie Gage. How lucky I am to live two blocks from an art director who has worked with international stars.

The cover for ManWAR the book was easy--all I needed was a free graphics editing program, a $4.99 photo of two good-looking people, a warped sense of humor and a desire to spend a great deal of time photoshopping my head onto a hunk's body instead of working on important stuff like Fast Lane. And my day job. But Fast Lane? That cover would require talent and vision.

Mission accomplished.

You've been given fair warning, ManWARriors, so free up space on your Kindles or whatever you use to read ebooks. An old-fashioned paper version of Fast Lane will be along pretty soon--in time for the holidays, for sure.

I've already started to work on what I plan to publish next. More on that in future installments. I've got a feeling I'm not so much almost done with Fast Lane as almost beginning something you and I will enjoy for a long time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Gotta Lotta ’Splainin’ to Do, Karen McQuestion

Fast Lane is with a proofreader now, and it is my hope to make it available in the next week to ten days. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a look into the mind of Karen McQuestion, whose newest book, Secrets of the Magic Ring, comes out Nov. 8.

M Magazine reported a couple months ago that Karen had sold half a million books. That puts me only 499,995 behind her, but she has no problem remembering what it was like when the counter was at zero, since she started publishing them just two years ago.

Some of her books, especially Easily Amused, contain elements commonly found in romance novels, but she says they’re not really romances. I asked her to ’splain, and here are her ’splanations:

A Scattered Life, Easily Amused and Favorite pit your heroines against female antagonists. Do you think readers can identify because every woman has a female nemesis somewhere in her life?
When my kids were little, I did daycare in my home, and I noticed a striking difference in the way boys and girls treat conflict. Boys (and I’m generalizing here, of course) were more forthright. If they had a problem with another kid, they put it out there, front and center. And when the conflict was over, it was over. It was never spoken of again, and no grudges were held.

Girls, on the other hand, could be sneaky. The girls in my care had the faces of angels, but were masters of duplicity and manipulation. They’d target another little girl and say things like, “I’m going to have the biggest, best birthday party in the world, and I’m inviting everyone but you!”

How do you fight against something like that?

In my opinion, women make more interesting opponents. I’m actually surprised that there aren’t more women villains in fiction and the movies. And yes, I hope readers can identify, because it seems to me that every woman has had a female nemesis in her life at one time or another.

If Easily Amused isn’t a romance novel, what is it? How is it different from a romance?
In the past, I’ve referred to it as a romantic comedy with more comedy and less romance. It’s probably technically a chick lit novel, but since I’ve read that chick lit is dead, I was reluctant to label it as such.

How is it different from a romance? Heck if I know.

In Easily Amused, Lola says she never wondered what Hubert looked like naked. I don’t get that. They knew each other in high school, and when I was in high school, I wondered what all females looked like naked—even my platonic friends. What does it take for a woman to wonder what a guy looks like naked?
I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Dodger dogs? Did you know they have their own Facebook page? And a best-selling book in which they were rated the best hot dogs in baseball.*
I’m sorry to say I really don’t know much about Dodger dogs. In Easily Amused, I used the Dodger dog reference to get a cheap laugh, and kind of forgot about it until I saw your question.

But thanks for letting me know their status as best hot dogs in baseball. I’m always up for learning something new.

As for Facebook, I’m really out of the loop in that department. I have an author page that my publicist set up and I try to update it, but sometimes I completely forget about it. To me, that’s the joy of the Internet. You can be plugged in when you want to be, and opt out if it gets to be too much.

* From Facebook: Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks: And All the Wieners In Between is a 1988 bestselling book by author Bob Wood. In 1985, the then-28-year-old Wood was a high-school history teacher in Seattle, Washington when he took a trip to all 26 Major League Baseball stadiums in one summer. Wood decided to assign a letter grade in each of eight categories and rank the stadiums from best to worst. Dodger Stadium and Royals Stadium tied for first, while the Astrodome and Exhibition Stadium finished as the two worst.